A Boeing 737-3H4 was being prepared for a domestic flight in the USA from Baltimore (Maryland) to Atlanta (Georgia). Onboard the more than 23-year-old aircraft, a crew of 6 and 129 passengers for the ~1000 km / 600 miles flight. As the last passengers boarded the aircraft the flight crew completed their final checks before push-back and engine starting.
The aircraft resting on its nose while the passengers disembark (source; www.flightglobal.com © Ryan Michaels)
Just before 21.00 lt (local time), the pushback was started and the aircraft was manoeuvred away from the gate. During the manoeuvring, the flight crew felt the aircraft's nose bounce up and down, after which the aircraft came to rest on its nose. ATC was informed and emergency services were alerted. Mobile steps were brought to the aircraft and the passengers and crew exited the aircraft via these steps. There were no injuries to th occupants of the aircraft. The nose landing gear had failed in a forward direction. This had caused substantial damage to the aircraft;
Nose landing gear
The nose landing gear wheel well
Forward pressure bulkhead crushed
The aircraft on jacks, engines removed, awaiting its faith (source; aviation-safety.net © Werner Fischdick)
Reportedly the damage was so extensive that the aircraft was damaged beyond repair. With the aid of video evidence from airport security cameras, it was established that the push-back tug had been pushing the aircraft at a speed of approximately 6 knots. This speed was only obtainable by the tug when it was operated in second gear or higher, The operators' GOM (General Operating Manual) specified that a pushback must be carried out in low or first gear, at walking speed. Sources on the internet state that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined the probable cause(s) of this accident to be the tug operator's excessive speed during pushback.
** Editorial note **
Although several sources refer to an NTSB report on this ground handling incident, V2 Aviation - Training & Maintenance has not been able to obtain the NYSB investigation report on this accident. This blog is therefore based on several internet sources. Should there be an inconsistency in the blog don't hesitate to get in touch with us. There are two possibilities to do that, via the comments function at the bottom of this page or via the contact page of the website.